Habitat for Humanity of Mason County held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for its upcoming project to build a home for a U.S. Armed Forces veteran in the area.
Executive Director Jamie Healy said the community came out to attend the goundbreaking at the location of the veteran build site — which is at 5463 W. Snead Drive in Pere Marquette Township — and to meet the future occupant of the home, Fred Reader Jr.
“We had a great turn out for our groundbreaking,” Healy said. “Roughly 40 people attended.”
Healy, along with Pere Marquette Fire Chief Larry Gaylord, Habitat for Humanity President Steve Winczewski, Rick Plummer, representing the veteran community and Reader Jr. took gold-plated spades to the snow-packed earth to mark the space during the Monday afternoon ceremony.
According to Healy, the Snead Drive property was donated to Habitat in 2015 by the Loft family. In 2017, when the local Habitat office was designated as a Veteran Build Initiative Affiliate through Habitat for Humanity International, Healy said the decision to use the property to help a veteran in the area was made.
The Veteran Build Affiliate designation means that Habitat “focus(es) on veteran initiatives and partnerships,” Healy previously told the Daily News.
Reader Jr. met the requirements to qualify for the program — specifically, being a veteran, earning less than 120 percent of the area median income and being eligible for a mortgage.
“Mr. Reader has qualified for a mortgage, is willing to partner with (Habitat) and will be required to contribute 300 hours of sweat equity,” Healy said, explaining that Reader will be an active participant in the construction of the home.
In October 2019, Team Rubicon — an international disaster relief and veteran services organization founded by U.S. Marines — helped prepare the site for the veteran build, removing trees and clearing the Snead Drive property.
Healy told the Daily News that Habitat for Humanity of Mason County has a vested interest in helping veterans, which led to the partnership with Team Rubicon.
Volunteers to help with the build are currently being sought, and Habitat is also still working to raise funds for the project, according to Healy.
Healy said the home will be a modular structure. Construction is expected to be complete by summer.
Those interested in volunteering can contact Healy at (231) 843-7888.
People who wish to make donations to help with the veteran build can do so through the Habitat for Humanity of Mason County office at 1916 W. U.S. 10 in Scottville. Contributions can also be made online at www.masoncountyhabitat.org.